Free from fees
Okay, so the title is a little bit of a misnomer, because if there's a way, there's a fee. But I ran into a little trouble with my bank last month as I was traveling and you know how it is when you cross time zones and borders; it's like all intelligence seeps out of your brain, slowly eroding memory. So one thing led to another and the next think I knew, I was looking at an Overdraft charge of $20. The kicker is, the bank pulled money from my savings account to cover my checking account; so it's not like the bank was out any money but *I* was out $20.
Anyway, that happened last month. On a whim today, I called my bank and asked them to waive the ODP charges. And -- they did. They're crediting me back the $20, which is essentially 10 breakfast tacos at my favorite taco joint, or 5 Starbucks coffees for those of you who drink those. It was fairly easy. I didn't even have to explain what happened, even though I had a ready story. I just said that I was charged $20 before the privilege of using my own money and that it didn't make sense. The representative went on and on about how the ODP was cheaper than Insufficient Funds, and my point back is, "You had my money. You used my money to pay the bill. You just had to take it from one account and move it to another." I was nice about it, and I was rewarded for my efforts. It was a total of 10 minutes work and the return was awesome.
I guess the lesson learned here is to ask. In the past, I've gotten late fees from credit cards waived, I've gotten cell phone charges for texting knocked off, negotiated down my internet bill, etc. People don't like to do these things because a) it seems confrontational, b) it takes time, and c) it's this whole idea of David vs Goliath. I mean really, who *is* Seema in the face of the Borg entity that is my bank? But nearly every time I've asked nicely, as Jack Nicholson would say, I've gotten the charges waived. And most of the times, you don't have to argue -- the customer representative usually has a bit of discretion to do what you ask and if you're a good customer and generally pay on time, they'll do what they can to make you happy.
A few months ago, I was tardy on renewing my cell phone contract on a new offer they sent me for two free months for renewal plus $15 off one month's service. So I just called up and asked them yes, I know the offer expired a couple of days ago, but can I get it anyway? And they said yes, and then I asked for the $15 off as well. They said yes to that. Total savings for about 10 minutes worth of work again was about $87. Again, awesome return -- better than you'd get in the stock market for sure.
Anyways, I'm pumped; I think I'm going to have a breakfast taco for dinner to celebrate.